MEET THE JET: The tankers fueling jets in the sky during Combat Raider
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. — You may have noticed some heavier aircraft over the Black Hills this week. The KC-135 and KC-46 are flying in and out of Ellsworth Air Force Base during Combat Raider.
The “KC” designation identifies both jets as tankers. They help the fighters and bombers participating in Combat Raider gas up in skies to sustain their missions.
The KC-135 was first delivered in 1957 and the KC-46 was delivered in 2019 with the Air Force planning to retire the older of the two for something newer.
To spot the difference between the tankers as they soar overhead, the KC-135 has four engines as opposed to the KC-46’s two.